Welcome to the Great Food Revolution of 2012.
When I started my frugal journey after our first son was born, I was pretty into couponing. We lived on a grocery budget of about $125/month, mainly because I was getting so much for free with coupons and barely touching the fresh stuff. I never once looked at a label, even if I had, I wouldn’t have had any idea what I was reading. We weren’t exercising at all, often times lamenting the fact that we were much heavier than we would like to be. We didn’t necessarily FEEL bad, I just don’t think at that point we realized how good we could actually feel if we paid even the slightest bit of attention to our bodies or our diet.
A few months after our second son was born (January of 2011), in that LONG stretch between Christmas and the first actual sunny day of Spring, my husband and I decided to watch a documentary that Emilie recommended called Food Inc. (Amazon).
First, let me tell you how I usually watch movies. I’m usually engrossed in the blogging world, occasionally peeking up at the TV when my husband says “Did you see that?” or “What did he just say?”. I’m terrible at sitting still. About 7 minutes into this movie, I put down the computer and just stared at the TV screen. I was not prepared for what this movie was actually about. It dives deep into the world of food as we know it, government subsidization, the state of farms, the state of the farmer. How was it that I never cared before where our food came from, what was in it, what I was feeding our children for heavens sake? In this case, the saying “Ignorance is Bliss” has never had a truer ring.
What changes did we make from here?
We immediately stopped eating fast food (watch the movie, you’ll get it). Not that we ate much, but we did take the kids for an occasional cheeseburger when we were in a hurry or stop on the way out of town. No more and we have not looked back since.
This movie is also what prompted me to start researching local Community Supported Agriculture programs. We decided we wanted to pay more attention to where our produce was coming from, how it was being grown and try to support local as much as possible. I used the website Localharvest.org and found the wonderful program from Finley’s Fresh Produce out of Hermiston. We have been using them for two years now and have been so happy, with the quality of the produce and the transparency of the farmers. We also vowed to visit the farmer’s markets more often, which we did all of last year.
Last but certainly not least, my husband built three raised beds in our backyard so we could grow some of our own produce. We ended up with an abundance of produce last year, which meant that we ate healthier whether we liked it or not. I’m not into food waste, so we ate, froze, canned a little or traded our vegetables. For my first gardening update of 2012, read here.
At the beginning of 2011, I had made it my goal to get back into exercising. I was tired of being frustrated with my weight, how I felt, the amount of energy I had to chase after the boys, how my clothes were NOT fitting. I ordered Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred (Amazon) and started doing it 2-3 times per week. It was hard. After doing nothing and pushing this post-baby body to do anything, I was a mess.
These two huge components in our lives (trying to eat better and exercising) seemed to collide with a spectacular BANG. The more I exercised, the less I wanted to eat junky food. The better we tried to eat, the more I wanted to exercise to help my body along. The more I did both, the more energy I had at the end of the day. I ended up at about a 16-17 pound weight loss and had never felt better about myself. If you are interested in my exercise/getting fit journey, read through some of my posts here.
The tipping point
What really sealed the deal for us was doing a 10-Day Herbal Cleanse, cutting out sugar, caffeine, most fats, dairy. We ate a LOT of whole foods over the course of the 10 days and really watched our portions and when we ate certain foods (protein, carbs, fats). We did lose a little bit of weight, but what we really gained was knowledge of the absolute workings of our body.
We realized that we had been eating for reward and not for the optimization of our bodies and energy levels. It showed us exactly what our bodies need for energy and stamina and how to keep our blood sugar consistent, without any major highs and lows. It showed us that the “treats” we were eating were just majorly empty calories and weren’t just bad for our weight loss goals, but seriously bad for our bodies. We realized that the foods we were eating weren’t giving us anything, but just taking away.
What we also realized was that the “healthy foods” we had been eating weren’t really healthy at all. We started really taking a look at the cereal we were eating for breakfast that was billed as a health food. We took a look at the proportion of our snacks and meals, we started paying more attention to labels and the amount of protein and fiber that was in our foods. We didn’t stick to the menu plan exactly after we got off the cleanse, but we made some serious changes for the better.
Without giving one second thought to my weight, I continued to work out every day and follow this better eating plan. I randomly stepped on the scale after a month or two after the cleanse and realized my total weight loss was now at 23 pounds!
All of these things have come together for BOTH my husband and I. We really needed to be on the same page, it just wouldn’t work if one of us was trying to make this journey without the other. He has been really willing to watch these movies with me and listen (at least semi-attentively) to all the information I am spouting at him all day.
I’m excited to share our journey with you! In the next post of this series, I will be talking about the major changes we have made to our diet, followed by a more broken-down version of our pantry changes and what we are now making from scratch.
Other resources we have used
- King Corn (Amazon) – All about the state of corn farming and high fructose corn syrup
- Forks over Knives (Amazon) – On choosing a vegetarian diet, eliminating meat and dairy
- Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (Amazon) – The amazing story of two men and their journey through significant weight loss by juicing
- Is Sugar Toxic? – YouTube clip
- Sugar and Kids: The Toxic Truth
- Saving on Organics – Webcast from The Coupon Project that really got me started thinking about our food journey
Articles and Books
- Real Food by Nina Planck (Amazon) – A fantastic journey through the majority of the food groups (Fats, Produce, Dairy + more) and all the basic (and not so basic) reasons a whole foods diet is best. Very succint and gave us all the information we have been looking for in one place.
- Earthbound Farm Organic Pocket Guide – Quick and easy reference for choosing organic over conventional
- EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 – Guide to the best/worst produce choices for pesticide ratings
- The Case Against Canola Oil – One of the main reasons we made our final switch to coconut oil
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